How the new GolfMark scheme will help your clubNovember, 2014 News & Tour
England Golf's Chris Hicks explains how the new scheme will help more clubs than ever before
From the largest championship course to the smallest municipal 9-holer, there is a mark by which quality and service at a golf club is measured.
The GolfMark process was launched in 2006 and seen as a way for clubs to develop their facilities and improve their reputation, under the umbrella of the England Golf governing body.
The scheme was largely a success, with 51 per cent of clubs involved seeing an increase in membership levels, while 85 per cent accessed funding and grants since achieving the award.
However, by England Golf’s own admission, the process didn’t appeal to every club.
It was heavily focused upon the development of junior golf, while the application process was seen as laborious and time-consuming.
For that reason GolfMark was relaunched in June, with a new set of values and greater support benefits, and England Golf’s Chris Hicks said he encourages every club in the country to think about getting involved.
Hicks explained: “The old GolfMark process was very junior-focused and we thought that was no longer in line with our strategy.
“So we went out to county officers – the guys on the ground that do day-to-day work with the clubs – and we got feedback about what they thought could be changed to create this new system.”
While 766 clubs have been awarded GolfMark status, it was realised that there were many more who had opted not to take part, for reasons varying from mature memberships who weren’t interested in attracting youngsters, to a reluctance to undertake the extensive process that went with achieving the mark.
“Those who have the GolfMark are stronger as a club, but that probably was not obvious in the past, so they couldn’t see the value in doing it,” added Hicks.
One of the simplest improvements when considering how to relaunch GolfMark was to trim down the process of achieving a mark, while application forms were also transferred online to allow those completing them to return and complete answers at a later time.
For the applicant, an ongoing working relationship with regional officers will mean that even before GolfMark status is achieved, clubs will see an improvement in their working practices.
This means any golf club in the country can take part and see an immediate benefit, as Hicks explained: “It may be easier for some clubs than it is for others, but at least they will be going through that journey and improving.”
Working within England Golf’s Strategic Plan 2014-2017, Hicks said clubs should see more tangible benefits from the new GolfMark, which incorporates Sport England’s Clubmark.
The mark now focuses upon four separate areas, which apply to all age groups. These are recruitment and retention of members, management and sustainability, coaching and competitions, and safeguarding.
There is also an enhanced benefits package, which includes discounts on England Golf publications, access to training and education and marketing support.
Hicks said: “It’s worth it in the end, when the community sees that theirs is a safe and welcoming club because they have gone through that process.”